In the past 15 years, Mike Schoder estimates that he’s seen more than 8,000 band performances. Many of them have been inside the Granada Theater, which he has owned and operated for the past five years. From selling CDs to booking shows, music has been at the center of Schoder’s life ever since he moved to Dallas from Minnesota for college. He discussed the reasons that music is so important to him during a recent interview inside the Granada for this week’s Art&Seek Q&A.
Art&Seek: A lot of bands will be passing through town on their way to and from South by Southwest. Is anyone coming through that you are particularly excited about?
Mike Schoder: We have The Egg and 2020Soundsystem (Thursday night), which are two electronic acts from London. They’re not DJs, they’re actually bands in the realm of Groove Armada, New Order, so it kinda meets from the jam band world over to electronica. And it’s actually going to be a free show.
A&S: You also booked acts for this year’s Wildflower Festival? What was your philosophy for deciding who you wanted to play?
M.S.: It’s a collaborative between myself and Geoff Fairchild, who’s the managing director, and the city manager [Bill Kefler], who was a college DJ. They really love the heritage acts from the 70s and 80s, and they’re not as interested in throwing a new-music festival. They want it to be a celebration of music that you know and love. And so I work with them on figuring out which artists are available. We put our heads together, and ultimately the decision is dictated by the city. … It’s so cheap. There’s no way you could see any one of those artists out there for the price of buying all three day’s admission.
A&S: What do you see as your role in fostering the local music scene?
M.S.: We’re not so interested in just bringing in the top pop stars. We want to bring in artists who are forging new ground and really doing something that’s exciting. Not just another band playing that sounds like every other band. People understand when they come here that they’re coming to a place that’s run by a bunch of music fans, and they’re kind of trusting out opinion. … It’s sort of like if your mom was a good cook. You never worried about coming home for Sunday dinner, because you knew whatever she was going to prepare was going to be top notch.
A&S: At this point, you’ve seen hundreds of shows in this building. If you could pick one to go back and attend again, which would it be?
M.S.: Well, this New Year’s Eve with Josh Weathers Band and Jonathan Tyler was really amazing. I think they’re the two hottest artists out of Dallas/Fort Worth. We had such a blast because the place was so electric that night. And every time the Polyphonic Spree plays here, the electricity and energy that’s evoked by Tim DeLaughter – the way he just propagates joy and smiles and happiness. I know I’d get bored if they played here every night, but it would probably take a really long time for that to sink in.
A&S: Do you remember the first big concert you went to?
M.S.: Yeah, it was the Texas Jam at the Cotton Bowl – Boston and Aerosmith and Tesla and Poison. That was in ’87 I think, and it was pretty wild. I went by myself, because I couldn’t find anybody to go with me. When I came down to Dallas first off, I came to go to school at Christ for the Nations Institute in Oak Cliff. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t find anybody to go with me – nobody at bible school wanted to go see Aerosmith.
A&S: You’ve had such an interesting career, from selling CDs on the side of the road to owning two CD World stores to running the Granada. Have you figured out exactly why music is so special to you that you’ve built your life around it?
M.S.: It makes people smile. It makes people feel at ease. And so I think that’s why a lot of people integrate it into their lives – because it brings them peace and it brings them happiness. So why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that? I know it’s definitely brought those two attributes to myself. I’ve just been really blessed that it’s worked.
The Art&Seek Q&A is a weekly discussion with a person involved in the arts in North Texas. Check back next Thursday for another installment.